Some secrets won’t stay buried…

There are things I want to tell my husband, Guy, about my past. I want to tell him how I bounced from foster home to foster home. I want to tell him that living with him is the first time I’ve ever felt safe and loved. Most of all, I want to tell him about my little sister, who vanished a few years ago.

But even though I can’t stop thinking about her, about everything that happened leading up to her disappearance, I can’t tell him about her. Not yet.

#TheSecretSister @DeLucaMarjorie @canelo_co @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours Facebook @damppebblesblogtours 

Because I don’t know if I can trust Guy – I’m not the only one in this marriage with a past and a complicated family. And I don’t know if I can trust myself – people keep questioning my memories of the past, and I have to wonder whether I’m losing my mind.

As I search for answers, only one thing is clear. When all of our secrets are on the table, the truth will burn through our lives and our families, leaving some of us in ashes.

My review

Anna is not always the kind of character you can empathise with. In spite of her terrible childhood – hungry, deprived, pushed from one foster home to another – she is totally materialistic and a shopaholic. She never wants to be poor again. But when she describes her early life it is the tale of her little sister Birdie that made me cry. The descriptions of this small, thin child trying to please everyone was just so sad, I wept for her.

This is a hard read at times, but by the time I got to half way through I just kept reading to the end. In fact it was way past midnight when I finished. What starts out as a story about childhood abuse and dreadful mistakes on the part of social services, turns into something quite different. I can’t say any more because the twist was a revelation.

The story starts with twins Anna and Birdie living with their father Dennis after their mother has died from a drugs overdose. Dennis tries his best but eventually he hands the girls over to social services. Sometimes they find themselves in a children’s’ home, while at other times they stay with a series of totally unsuitable foster parents – greedy, uneducated, alcoholics and drug addicts. People who just want to get paid for taking on needy children. I can’t believe no checks were made as to their suitability. No-one ever visited their houses. And most of Anna’s social workers seem to be useless.

More and more of the girls’ background is revealed through Anna’s nightmares and flashbacks, but the theme running through the book is ‘where’s Birdie?’ Anna meets handsome Professor Guy Franzen and they marry, but this is just the beginning. In her job as a teacher of underprivileged, broken children, she sees Birdie everywhere. And the more she discovers about the children in her school, the nearer to the truth about Birdie’s disappearance she gets. It appears little has changed in 15 years.

If I had one criticism it would be that there was no light amongst the darkness. But it would be difficult to find any. This is a brilliantly written and well researched novel which I found I could not put down.

Many thanks to @damppebbles for inviting me to be part of #damppebblesblogtours

About the Author

M. M. DeLuca spent her childhood in Durham City, England. After studying Psychology at the University of London, Goldsmiths College, she moved to Winnipeg, Canada where she worked as a teacher then as a freelance writer. She studied Advanced Creative writing with Pulitzer prizewinning author, Carol Shields and has received several local arts council grants for her work. Her first novel, The Pitman’s Daughter was shortlisted for the Chapters Robertson Davies first novel in Canada award in 2001. She went on to self-publish it on Amazon in 2013 where it reached the Amazon Top 20 in the literary bestseller chart. Her novel The Savage Instinct was shortlisted for the Launchpad Manuscript Contest (USA) in 2017 where it was picked up by independent publisher, Inkshares.

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